When we’re not traveling, writers spend a good amount of time alone in front of our computers. We have to if we’re going to meet those looming deadlines. But devoting time to our writing to craft the perfect travel article is just one part of the equation. We also have to learn how to market ourselves.
Marketing for travel writers involves sending out pitches to editors or brands you want to work with, introducing yourself and your ideas, and then following up.
It also involves networking—and not just on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s important to meet face-to-face through industry events, conferences, and press trips. But it’s not as daunting as it sounds.
Here are some marketing tips that have helped me over the years.
Join a Travel Writing Organization
Participate in the travel-writing life by joining organizations. Some good examples are the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA), International Food Wine & Travel Association (IFTWA), and Great Escape Publishing’s International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance (ITWPA). All of these organizations provide professional development opportunities and support from a like-minded community.
Attend Industry Events and Conferences
Many organizations offer conferences. You may have to spend a little money to attend, but think of it as an investment in your career. In addition to professional development sessions and information, conferences often bring in editors for panels—which gives you the opportunity to meet them.
By attending workshops and conferences over the years, I’ve met several editors for whom I now write. As one editor said to me recently, “I get so many emails I can’t possibly read them all. But I always read the ones from people I’ve met.”
Engage in Online Communities
Before social media, writers often felt isolated, working alone at home with no like-minded souls around to offer encouragement, advice, and support. That’s changed. Facebook has several groups for writers and bloggers. Do a search for groups and find one or two that appeal to you. Most allow you to request to be added to the group.
Once you’re in, you have a platform to ask questions, observe how other travel writers are handling things, and even showcase some of your published work—you never know who might see it and commission more from you!
Introduce Yourself to Tourism Representatives
As travel writers, we’re not just marketing our articles to editors; we’re marketing ourselves to destinations. It’s up to us to convince a representative that sending us on a press trip to their destination will benefit them by the articles we produce.
By introducing yourself to tourism representatives via email or telephone, you can begin to build relationships. Subscribe to destination newsletters. Follow the destinations online and interact with them through social media—trust me, they notice.
Above All, Be Professional and Courteous
It seems like a no-brainer: Of course you’re going to be courteous to editors and destination marketing representatives, right? But I could write a book just from the horror stories I’ve heard from editors and destination representatives about the actions of travel writers. Don’t be THAT writer.
When you’re on a press trip, it’s important to remember you’re not on vacation. Show up on time for appointments, take notes and photographs, ask questions, and always be polite and professional. Remember, editors are often on press trips, too, and first impressions matter.
And, while most of us wouldn’t dream of arguing with an editor who requests revisions to an article, it happens. Recently, an editor of an international magazine (who is now a friend) shared with me an appalling story. She called a writer to request a few edits to an article. Her request was met with this response: “No, my article is fine just the way I submitted it.” Guess who she won’t be working with any longer!